At the age of 10, Kelvin Odartei Cruickshank, from Accra, Ghana, discovered his passion for making cars years before he was legally allowed to drive.
"From the beginning, when I started with the project, many people thought l was going mad. They were saying how can a young Ghanaian boy build a car, this was madness to them," the now 19-year-old Cruickshank explained in an interview with Interesting Engineering.
Now, having built his own car, the Kelvin Mobile, out of scraps and a few parts bought with saved money, Cruickshank is well known and he says people come to congratulate him on the street.
Building a dream project from scratch
"I decided to make my own car because I realized l had the passion for creating machines and I wanted to make something beyond what I had done before," Cruickshank said.
Coming from a low-income neighborhood, it didn't come easy for Cruickshank — he had to do his best to teach himself how to build his dream project from scratch.
The short video above, which shows the car in its very early stages, gives an idea of the materials Cruickshank had to work with, as well as the scale of his ambitious project.
"The hardest parts of the car [to build] were the frame, the chassis, and the engine seat," Cruickshank explained. "These parts were made from iron rods, square pipes, and round pipes. They were made to provide the vehicle with good strength to prevent accidents."
The story bears similarities to that of Chinese mechanic Jack Lee, who built a drivable Bugatti replica from scrap pieces.
However, unlike Lee, who was already a trained mechanic and had a professional team working with him when he started his project, Cruickshank began working on his car when he was 15, having previously worked on remote control prototype vehicles, including planes, from the age of seven.
Elon Musk comparisons make Cruickshank 'proud'
In order to attain the pieces he needed for his Kelvin Mobile, Cruickshank took up several jobs, including as a street hawker, selling drinks on the roadside. He also collected scrap materials from local dust bins and scrap yards.
The most expensive part, Cruickshank says, is the 300hp engine housed at the front of the vehicle. Including the engine and other parts he had to buy, he says the car cost less than $3,000 to build.
Cruickshank's incredible talent at such a young age has led to comparisons with Elon Musk by commenters online as well as news outlets — something that Cruickshank told us makes him feel proud.
Couldn’t afford to pay for repairs, so I fixed almost everything on that car from parts in the junkyard. Ironically, that’s me replacing broken side window glass. The circle is complete lol.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2019
Though Musk was born into a wealthy family, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO has posted on social media about how he couldn't afford to pay for car repairs as a teenager, so he fixed "almost everything on [a] car from parts in the junkyard."
Cruickshank's future ambitions
Now, Cruickshank says that "my dream is to become a renowned engineer as well as a car manufacturer in the future."
Next, he plans to continue working on his vehicle — a campaign on Airfunding to help him finish the project has so far reached $1,193 of its $2,000 goal.
After that, the talented creator told us he aims to build "a new [car] from scratch that will be more advanced than the previous one."
In his crowdfunding campaign, he says he aims to set up a garage that will allow him to build new cars and other projects that he has in mind — some of which he has already started working on.
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He also hopes to inspire others with his work: the Airfunding description explains how "there will be opportunities available at the garage to train persons that wish to learn from [him] as well."
Kelvin Cruickshank attributes a large part of his success to a group of friends he said were there to help him with his project. Their hard work made a dream project come true, and that in itself serves as inspiration for communities and budding engineers the world over.